Thought for the Day Diary 09/05/2020 - 17/05/2020
Thought for today, 17th May 2020
Today is the 6th Sunday of Easter and this coming Thursday the 21st of May is Ascension Day. We have had the cross on the green with us since Good Friday as a symbol of Jesus being with us in a physical sense and also to mark the resurrection appearances to his disciples. The cross will be removed from the green just before Thursday and the church bells will be rung at 12.00 noon every day from Ascension Day until Pentecost.
If we had been able to have gone through Holy Week and Easter in our Church we would have purchased a new Paschal Candle which would have been lit on Holy Saturday, as a symbol of the Resurrection, and it would have stood by the altar and be lit at every service until Pentecost. From Pentecost onwards it would have stood beside the font to be lit at baptisms. The Paschal Candle is a symbol of the Light of the World. At one time in the liturgy of the Church the Paschal candle was symbolically snuffed out during the Ascension Day service as a symbol of Christ not being with us physically anymore, that is until the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. That gave people another sense of loss so many churches removed the practice. We will ring our bells on Thursday to show the world that Jesus is always with us and then on Sunday the 31st of May, the Day of Pentecost, our Lych Gate will burst into colour. It is to be decorated by our young people with symbols of the Holy Spirit, flames, Doves and Rainbows to shine out to the wider community that the Holy Spirit is here for everyone and is always with us.
The thoughts for the day from Monday the 18th of May to Sunday the 24th will be a series of reflections on different parts of our church building. I am grateful to Janet Reeh who has provided the reflections to remind us of the importance of our beloved place of Worship. Rev Philip
Prayer for today
Heavenly Father, as Jesus prepared to leave his disciple's, he left them with his commandment that they should love one another as he had loved them. Help us to embody that commandment as a Christian Community and to reach out in loving service to those we meet. Amen
Thought for today, 16th May 2020
'In spite of everything that had happened, Job did not sin by blaming God.' (Job 1 v22)
Job, whose name was synonymous with integrity under fire, had ten children, vast land holdings, servants and incredible wealth. Then without warning he lost everything including his children and his health. How could anyone endure all this without becoming bitter? Yet, as the quote says above, he did not blame God. Instead he said "We accept the good things from God so why shouldn't we accept adversity as well?"
Job recognized God's right to control events in his life. He understood that anything God permits is ultimately best. Job looked for wisdom in his adversity. He said "My flesh might be destroyed yet I will see God." (Job 19 v26) And he longed for the moment. Job took the long view of a future without pain and sorrow and was strengthened to handle whatever life threw at him.
In this strange period of lock-down or semi lock- down, for many there is a lot to endure. The complexities of re-opening the economy, schools, restaurants, football matches and churches is one thing, meanwhile being under the constant anxiety of a return of the virus' second peak is another. I reckon we can all relate to Job. We are all experiencing on one level Job's dilemma. Of course, Job didn't see his difficulties as a dilemma. His friends did, they were always trying to get him to blame God in some way or that he must have offended God and that is why he had to endure all his troubles. Job saw God in it, but he felt he wasn't being punished for some past transgression. His view was, this is what life is about, good and bad and God will see him through it. God will see us through it too. Rev Philip
Thought for today, 15th May 2020
The Apostle Paul wrote "Does this sound as if I am trying to win man's approval? No, what I want is God's approval!" (Galatians 1 v10)
A talented young musician studied under a famous violin teacher. Now it was time for his first recital. He performed magnificently and received numerous 'Bravos!' Strangely he seemed not to hear them, but kept glancing anxiously at the front row. It wasn't until a white-haired man rose and nodded graciously that the young violinist started to smile. His master had praised his work! He had received the only approval that matters!
Paul said "We speak as messengers approved by God...our purpose is to please Him, not people." (1Thessalonians 2 v4) We should do the same and take our focus off how others see us. It isn't others we need to impress and we shouldn't allow the approval of others to obstruct our view of ourselves. Concerning Jesus, it says in John 'Even then, many of the Jewish authorities believed in Jesus; but because of the Pharisees they did not talk about it openly, so as not to be expelled from the synagogue. They loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.' (John 12 v42-43)
Remember, anytime you set goals, establish boundaries, or change old pattern, you are going to get criticism from those who are used to you behaving in a certain way. Have the courage of your convictions. Do not let that stop you from doing what you know is right!
Prayer for today
Almighty God, when you created the heaven's and the earth you saw that it was good. We recognize that in this world there are good times and bad times but you remain constant. We ask for the gift of a strong will like that of Job, so we can be resolute in faith through this time of uncertainty. Amen
Prayer for today
Help us Lord Jesus, to follow your example and always seek to do God's Will rather than go our own way. When difficult decisions have to be made, give us the strength of character to do always what is right in your sight rather than take an easy route in order to meet other people's approval. Amen
Thought for today, 14th May 2020
'For our knowledge and our prophecy alike are partial, and partial vanishes when wholeness comes. (1 Corinthians 13 v9)
There is no point in pretending we have all the answers when we don't. When Paul wrote the words. 'now I know in part' (1 Corinthians 13 v12) he was not expressing doubt, he was just reflecting honesty. God just stamps some things 'it be will explained later'. Thomas may have arrived at the truth of the resurrection later than the others- but he got there in the end.
People who come to airtight conclusions about their understanding of the Bible and carry with it an air of orthodoxy are usually people who haven't been hurt much. They are usually people who have painted themselves into a corner and isolated themselves, to a point, from the real world. Then some unavoidable disaster comes along like they lose their job, or a divorce happens, or the death of a loved one and, when that storm threatens, all those firmly held certainties become like moving sand. The emotional explosion results in more questions than answers. As a result, they suddenly discover things they didn't know. At that point simplistic solutions are replaced with realistic reflections and the deep things of God, which will begin to emerge from the situation that eclipse the shallow answers of before.
The disciples, certain of what they believed Jesus to be in his earthly ministry, were devastated when he ended up dying on a cross rather than sitting upon an earthly throne. Their certainties were blown apart. Three days after Jesus' death He appeared to them and everything changed, their perspective, their intellect, their faith, their understanding, in other words they were transformed. And you know what? You too will find the answers in His presence when you will not find them anywhere else. Rev Philip
Prayer for today
Heavenly Father, the storms of life come to all of us at different times. Currently we are all sharing in one and some are finding it harder than others. We pray that we will learn from this storm and come to a greater understanding of your purposes for our lives. We particularly pray for those who are hurting deeply at this time because of personal loss and that one day 'our knowledge will be whole like Your Knowledge of us' Amen. (ref 1 Corinthians 13 v12b)
Thought for today, 13th May 2020
'This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.' (Psalm 118 v24)
Even though we are still in lock down and even though we can go outdoors to exercise a little bit more, we are still limited in what we can do. But today is still a gift from God so make the most of it. If we think today and every day. Just for today, I will enjoy each moment to the fullest and try not to tackle my whole life's problems at once. Just for today, I will try to improve my mind by learning more than I know; I will read God's Word faithfully for it is my source of wisdom and strength. I will be particularly sensitive to those Scriptures that require personal obedience and greater commitment.
Just for today, I will not find fault or try to change or improve anyone - except myself. Just for today, I will have a plan and a goal. I might not follow them exactly but I will have them nonetheless. By doing that I will save myself from two enemies, hurry and indecision. Just for today, I will develop my character. I will do someone a good turn and keep it secret; if anyone finds out it will not count. Just for today, I will do something I don't naturally want to do, thereby train my spirit to rule my flesh and my will to rule my emotions. Just for today, I will not be afraid to love or to risk; I will take steps of faith that stretch me beyond my present comfort level, try to enjoy all God's blessings and believe that every seed I sow in His Kingdom will be multiplied back to me many times over. This is how I will live, just for today!
Prayer for today
Jesus, Lord and Saviour. You showed us how to live and how to die, in complete and utter faith. Help us to always give thanks for each and every day and that you will help us to live according to your Word. Amen
Thought for today, 12th May 2020
In Isaiah chapter 43 God Says "I call you by name; you are mine. When you pass through water I shall be with you; when you pass through rivers, they will not overwhelm you; walk through fire and you will not be scorched, through flames and they will not burn you. I am the Lord your God.... You are precious and honoured in My sight and I love you." (Isaiah 43 v1b-4)
Just after I was ordained a colleague of mine asked me if I had got a spare shoe box to put on one side. He said, "always keep it on your shelf in the study and if you ever get something nice from a parishioner or the Bishop, like a card or a letter thanking you for something you have done very well, like, a lovely wedding ceremony or a baptism, put it in the box". Then if there are any difficult times in the future the box is a reminder that you do get things right sometimes. I took his advice and it has been very helpful at times throughout my ministry. Another piece of advice is making a note of the last phrase of the above quote from Isaiah. God says, 'You are precious and honoured in my sight and I love you." Perhaps putting it on a card and keeping it with you.
Every morning when you wake up let your first words be, 'I am loved by God.' Through the ups and downs of the day and then every night when you go to sleep let your last words echo, 'I am loved by God.' When you are tempted to despair because you have blown it, take out the card and look at it. When you are overwhelmed by all you have to do, read it over and over to yourself. When you are afraid, when you are anxious, when you are alone, remember and feast on the words that give life, 'I am loved by God!' Rev Philip
Prayer for today
Lord God, our Heavenly Father, we place all the ups and downs we encounter in life into Your Hands. We know that we are secure in your love and your protection. Help us never to lose sight of that fact, through the saving grace of Your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen
Thought for today, 11th May 2020
'The prayer of the righteous is powerful.' (James 5 v16b)
It was really helpful to read Rev Alan's reflections on the Lord's Prayer last week. He pointed to those deep and profound words as a source of comfort in this time of deep uncertainty. Nothing lies beyond the reach of prayer, except that which lies outside the Will of God. You will never know how many people have been strengthened because you asked God to encourage them. Or healed because you prayed for their souls? None of us will ever know the true results of our prayers this side of heaven, but we know this: God's kingdom on earth is established by those who pray. Through prayer we are invited into a relationship with God - a relationship that involves both talking and listening. Prayer is talking to God about what we are doing together. In addition to all the other work that gets done through prayer, the greatest work of all is the knitting together of our hearts with the heart of God. Many a person on their deathbed has regretted their obsession with work, money, pleasure and power. But have you heard of anyone who regretted spending too much time in prayer? Where there is much prayer there is much love.
Bishop George Aston Oldham wrote, 'Prayer does not consist in battering the walls of heaven for personal benefit or the success of our plans. Rather, it is the committing of ourselves to carrying out God's purpose. It is a telephone call to headquarters for orders. It's not bending God's Will to ours, but our will to His.'
Prayer for today
Lord we are always in your presence. Help us to remember that fact and that we can talk with you wherever we are. Help us always to seek to do your Will in Your world and for the growth of Your Kingdom. Amen.
Thought for today, 10th May 2020
'He has made everything appropriate in its time' (Ecclesiastes 3 v11)
The roller coaster of life runs both day and night and so some trips take place in the dark. However strange the time we are in this is not a time of punishment, retribution, or abandonment. The best way to think of it is a time when God is working out the next important stage of our development, aligning us for the greater advancement of His kingdom.
Earlier in April I briefly mentioned the book of Daniel and the three Hebrew young men Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. I didn't go into any detail about what they did but they were men who feared the Lord and obeyed His Word no matter what. They were ordered to be burned in the furnace for refusing to worship the King's golden image (Daniel 3).
They never doubted God's intention, they knew they would be safe but even if they didn't survive, they would never worship anything but God. They had to go through the furnace to get through, God has the last word always, not the devil, circumstances or people. Like the three young men if we stick with God, we will come out the other side refined as gold.
Thought for today, 9th May 2020
It was wonderful to be able to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the end of the second world war yesterday. It was an uplifting thing to think about especially under our current difficulties. It was also uplifting to hear our church bells ringing out across the green. Thanks to Tommy Taylor for ringing them for us on that special occasion. We are going to endeavor to ring them again on Ascension Day and hopefully regularly after that once we have agreed a pattern and safety policy.
It is true to say that the Christian life is not an either/or experience. If you get my meaning? Where either, you are a believer and life is problem free, or an unbeliever and life is tough. It is more of a both/and experience that brings times of enjoyment and times to endure.
The Bible heroes experienced ups and downs throughout. Consider the paradoxes of God's Word, Jesus. He was a man of sorrows as foretold by (Isaiah 53 v3). Yet He was also anointed with joy (Hebrews 1 v9b). The Apostle Paul said of the believer, we are sorrowful yet always rejoicing, poor yet making many rich., having nothing and yet possessing everything (2 Corinthians 6 v10)
We should rejoice in our 'both/and' world. In spite of the difficulties before us God is still on His throne. He is still controlling the mix of joy to sorrow, peace to conflict, loss to gain, want to satisfaction, tragedy to triumph, with your best interests always in His heart. May God continue to bless us all as we press on. Rev Philip
Prayers for today (written by Ros Cockrill)
Lord, we ask you today, to be with us in this time of uncertainty and anguish. Help us to remember that you are always there to support and comfort us. In the past few weeks, we have been bombarded with news, making us feel worried and unsettled, give us faith to trust in you.
We pray for all the closed churches worldwide, that they may be able to reopen very soon, so that parishioners may worship you together once more. Nearer to home, we pray for the work of the Blackburn Diocese Coronavirus Task Group, who have worked constantly to support and inform clergy and congregations. We thank you for our vicar Reverend Philip Chew and Alan Byrom, who publish their thoughts and prayers for each day, giving us great comfort.
Gracious God, we thank you for those who are caring for the sick during this pandemic, and we ask you to give them the skill, sympathy and strength to go about their work. Grant wisdom to the scientists searching for a vaccine, and fortify them with your spirit, so that through their efforts many sick people may be restored to good health. We thank those key workers who support our community, and the members of the Armed Forces, who have been deployed in many different jobs, to give support to the country at this time.
Strengthen us to care for those in need, as you demonstrated through your life on earth. In this anxious time, fortify us so that we can reassure those who are frightened, and give encouragement to those who are isolated. Help them to know that you are with them always and that nothing can separate them from your love. May we comfort each other, even though we are apart.
Help us to focus on the positive, to appreciate the beautiful world that you have made for us, and to realise that although our lives may be very different, we have more time to think of others, and to value the important things in life.
Renew us, that we may we follow the light of your love and spread hope.
Prayer for Today
Most holy God, who through your servant Julian revealed the wonders of your love: grant that as we are created in your nature and restored by your grace, our wills may be made one with yours, that we may come to see you face to face and gaze on you for ever Amen